Hilla Rebay  (1890 – 1967) 

Hilla Rebay, also known as Hilla von Rebay, was a German abstract artist and co-founder of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Rebay was born in 1890 in the former Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine of the German Empire to a German aristocratic family. She received training in painting practices and history at the Académie Julian in Paris from 1909 to 1910. Rebay’s interest in modern art developed upon her move to Munich in 1910 and she began experimenting with modernist styles. In 1913, she exhibited alongside renowned artists like Constantin Brâncusi, Mark Zakharovich, Chagall, Robert Delaunay, and Diego Rivera at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. Rebay also exhibited with the Secession Group in Munich and the November Gruppe in Berlin. While living in Berlin, she was introduced to the non-objective modern art of Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Franz Marc by Jean Arp.
In 1927, Rebay immigrated to New York City and became close friends with the major art collector, Solomon R. Guggenheim. It was through Rebay’s encouragement and advisement that Guggenheim started to collect non-objective artworks himself, particularly those by Kandinsky. This collection would eventually form the foundation of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s Museum of Non-Objective Painting, which opened in 1939. Rebay served as director of the museum until 1952 and played an instrumental role in hiring architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design the famous structure that is now the permanent residence of this collection.

Upon Rebay’s death in 1967, a portion of her personal collection of art was donated to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as the Hilla Rebay Collection. Since 2012, the Hilla von Rebay Association has managed a museum in her honor in Teningen, Germany in her parent’s former home.